The Promised Land Sumation

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Book Title: The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America (Ranked 67 on "Best American Journalism" Top 100) Author: Nicholas Lemann Year Published: 1991         The Promised Land is unquestionably deserving of its selection as one of the top 100 works of American journalism. Written by Nicholas Lemann, The Promised Land explains the massive black migration from southeastern plantations to industrial cities. First-hand accounts from the Mississippi sharecroppers' journey to Chicago's South-Side set Lemann's work apart from similar writings and clearly depict the tragic hopelessness of the black ghetto after so much optimism that success was imminent for blacks in the north.

        Sharecropping, the post-Civil War agreement between landowner and tenant farmer to split the profit from its sale, was hardly a step-up than the slavery their ancestors endured. Although legal and fair in theory, the wealthy landowners often cheated their black farm-workers on "the settle". "The settle" was the payment the tenant farmer earned after living expenses were subtracted from the worker's portion of a crop's profit.

In the white-ruled Deep South, black sharecroppers had no choice but accept what the plantation owner gave them. Poor living conditions, arduous cotton-picking, inadequate education, racism, segregation and constant moving was the post-slavery life of millions of blacks for eighty years following the end of slavery.

        October 2, 1944 maybe the most substantial date in 20th century America. Just south of Clarksdale Mississippi, less than 3,000 people flocked to field C-3 of the Hopson plantation to witness the first public demonstration of a working, production-ready model of the mechanical cotton picker. Eight International Harvester cotton pickers collected 2,000 pounds of cotton, each, in one-hour, at a cost of $5.26. A good field hand could pick twenty pounds in an hour; to pick 2,000 pounds worth, the cost was $39.41. Instantly, the...